A UCL-led study has found that probes designed to
find life on Mars do not drill deep enough to
find the living cells that scientists believe may
exist well below the surface. Although current
drills may find essential tell-tale signs that
life once existed on Mars, cellular life could
not survive the radiation levels for long enough
any closer to the surface of Mars than a few
metres deep - beyond the reach of even state-of-the-art drills.
Lead author Mr Lewis Dartnell said: "Finding
hints that life once existed â proteins, DNA
fragments or fossils - would be a major discovery
in itself, but the Holy Grail for astrobiologists
is finding a living cell that we can warm up,
feed nutrients and reawaken for studying. It just
isn't plausible that dormant life is still
surviving in the near-subsurface of Mars - within
the first couple of metres below the surface in
the facce of the ionizing radiation field.
Finding life on Mars depends on liquid water
surfacing on Mars, but the last time liquid water
was widespread on Mars was billions of years ago.
Even the hardiest cells we know of could not
possibly survive the cosmic radiation levels near
the surface of Mars for that long."
Posted by johannes to
at 2/01/2007 04:45:00 PM
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